CBS Corp. Reports Narrowed Loss in First Earnings Report

Feb 23, 2006  •  Post A Comment

CBS Corp., in its first earnings release since splitting off from Viacom at the end of last year, said Thursday that its fourth-quarter loss narrowed from a year ago.

The red ink was the result of a $9.5 billion write-down on the value of the company’s television assets. A year earlier, CBS took an $18 billion charge related to reduced value of its radio assets.

The 2005 write-down led CBS to report a net loss of slightly more than $9.1 billion, compared with a year-earlier loss of $18.5 billion. Revenue rose 2 percent to $3.8 billion.

For the year, CBS posted a narrowed loss of $7.1 billion versus a year-earlier loss of $17.5 billion. Revenue was largely flat at $14.5 billion.

With the exception of its radio business, which was down slightly, CBS’s main operations — television, outdoor, theme parks and publishing — were up in the quarter.

The television division, which includes the CBS and UPN broadcast networks, television production, syndication and Showtime Networks, reported a 1 percent rise in revenue to $2.5 billion, reflecting a 3 percent rise in advertising revenue that was offset by lower television licensing revenue.

Meanwhile, CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves appeared to downplay the potential threat that News Corp.’s new rival start-up network, My Network TV, might pose to The CW Television Network, pointing out that The CW has already locked up affiliate agreements covering half of the United States.

Answering questions put to him during CBS’s fourth-quarter earnings call, Mr. Moonves said the CBS-owned television stations that will be affiliated with The CW, along with a number of Tribune Co.-owned TV stations that have locked up 10-year affiliation agreements, give The CW an advantage over News Corp.’s new offering.

“The affiliate process for the stations not aligned with Tribune is under way, and we are already seeing major activity in many markets, with many lucrative deals to come,” he said.